Spectyr by Philippa Ballantine

Rating 8.4/10
A great continuation to the Books of the Order series with better characters, storyline and ideas.

Though one of the most powerful Deacons, Sorcha Faris has a tarnished reputation to overcome. She and her partner, Deacon Merrick Chambers, find themselves chasing down rumours of geists, but long for a return to real action. So they jump at the chance to escort a delegation sent to negotiate the terms of the Emperor's engagement. Their destination: the exotic city of Orinthal.

But a string of murders has Orinthal on edge, and Sorcha and Merrick are asked to investigate. Meanwhile the Emperor's sister has unwittingly released a cruel and vengeful goddess, one who it bent on destroying her enemies, including the geistlord who resides inside the shapeshifting rival to the throne - Sorcha's lover…

Spectyr is the second book in the Books of the Order series written by Philippa Ballantine, of which Geist was the first. Spectyr takes place a few weeks after Geist. I was very pleased with the creativeness that Philippa Ballantine showed in Geist, and hoped to see this back in Spectyr as well. Spectyr is a good sequel, though it proved for me a bit of unexpected after the colourful, action-packed debut Geist, I was expecting a similarly sequel, but in Spectyr there is lot of time spend explaining the pasts of several characters.

Again we follow the two Deacons, Sorcha and Merrick, and also The Young Pretender, Raed. What was for me directly notable from the beginning was that there was no time spend on revisiting several aspects of Geist but you are thrown directly into the new storyline of Spectyr, so it is handy that you read Geist beforehand so you get the idea behind the whole series. After the events in Geist, Sorcha and Merrick are charged with some menial tasks of removing the supernatural. But after one of those jobs, the plotline of Spectyr takes off and Sorcha and Merrick set off to travel and protect a delegation. Similarly as in Geist there are two storylines, the first focusing on Sorcha and Merrick and the second one on Raed. Raed is chasing down rumours to find his sister. But as in its prequel there are a lot of twists along the way that make it a interesting and fast paced story.

Like I mentioned, there is a lot more emphasis on the characters, which is always a nice bonus for me. I like it when authors take the time to make a sort of interlude book where there is more explanation about the pasts of the characters and the world. This allows for building a certain depth into the series. Sorcha is the main protagonist of the series and I already got to know here in the first book. And looking at Spectyr, you again see her strong female heroine personality and that she likes to take everything into her own hands, but also you see that she is becoming more and more dependent on her partner Merrick. The strong bond that they made is growing between them. In the storyline there were quite a few paragraphs in which she reflects that she really needs Merrick for her strength. I did find that on the characters there was a lot more going on with Merrick and Raed. Though Sorcha is still her interesting self she is not developing that greatly overall. There is a lot going on with Merrick and Raed and with both of them you get to learn about their pasts and what caused them to become what they are right now. I was especially drawn towards Raed’s somewhat emotional past and how he was forced from court and how he is now living his life, constantly in fear of what is within him. As for Merrick you see that he also has a troubled past and in Spectyr he is meeting up with some old family members that also show his compelling side. The cast was already strong in Geist but with the elaborations behind the characters of Raed and Merrick, Philippa Ballantine has added a great more depth into the storyline.

The setting of the book and the idea behind the series remained the same, but Philippa Ballantine played nicely into the already well constructed world of the series. Using the world to its fullest with what she has shown in Geist. In the build up to the end of the book there are again a few nice twists in the plotline. But what gave a nice feel overall was the wild talent of Merrick - man was I just hit there - something unexpected but just so coolly introduced into Spectyr, and now I really want to know what he can do since this is pretty dangerous, but I know Merrick will be a very cool character is this can be continued.

All in all I am more than pleased with the great continuation of the Books of the Order series that Philippa Ballantine has shown in Spectyr. Spectyr is a everything that was present in Geist but felt better in terms of using the characters and using the storyline and idea behind the book. There is a careful planning going on that looking back at Geist can be a great plot twist. In the end of Spectyr you are left in a very interesting position that really urges me to pick up the third book in the series, Wryath.

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